Sunday, December 12, 2010

Homesick...

I think all travelers would agree that “no one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang... This is something I have come to realize even without the experience.
For those of you who are very close to me, you already know that I am missing home, especially during this time. Currently, I am having an inner battle between what I know & what is new. I'm not sure if this was all triggered by the realization that I will not be going home for quite some time, or simply because it's the holidays... Either way I have been feeling vibrations in my soul that tell me that my time in the states is not over. This realization is something I knew I would face during my overseas excursion, and to be honest before I left I assumed it would be the opposite.
Currently I have a deep hunger for a few things that I left behind, & the most powerful is my yearning for my friends & family. Or should I just say my family, because all of my friends are a part of me like my family... These travels have made me realize how authentic & meaningful all of my relationships are, & my love & gratitude for each of them has only grown with the distance. Sometimes it feels unsettling to be so far away from the people who I am closest to, and I sit with this feeling & know it is rooted out of genuine love & appreciation for all of the ones who have come across my path & effected me deeply. So the reason I am writing this blog is to set intentional appreciation & allow the space this time deserves & let all of my friends & family know how deeply you are missed, & that everyday you ride humbly in my soul. You ALL are my roots, & without you I would be a tree that has already collapsed.
At the same time that I want to sit & reflect upon this awareness of love & gratitude for my family, I want to also offer respect & recognition to the opportunities I have been granted. I realize that I attracted everything that is happening in my life right now, & I am remaining open & committed to the journey that unfolds for me daily. In my heart I know that this opportunity that has presented itself as an experience that WILL evolve my consciousness, & therefore I will continue to maintain & ride out the colorful emotions that are attached to it.

The other two things that I truly miss about living in the states, is OBVIOUSLY the music scene, which I have also grown a new vision & appreciation for, and... pickles (dill pickles-there are just some things you cant find over here)... But all in all, these other two arn't actually as important, they're just cravings...


“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cultural Connection

The 7th of December marks the date of my 6th month on the other side of the world. I never would have dreamed landing the position I am in now. Every day is still filled with new experiences on the path towards transformation. Matt & I currently have been asked to continue our contract at Greenschool until June, so we will be continuing this journey overseas for another 6 months.
Many people consider Bali unlike any other place on Earth, it's almost as though it is a vortex of positive energy. Somehow things seem to manifest for people with ease- its like the people who've been chosen to be here are supposed to be here with a mission to unravel & the universe is generously allowing it to happen.
The Balinese people are the most intentional human beings I have ever met, also the most humble... It is amazing to see what drives different cultures, what motivates them, inspires them, & it meaningful to them. After being away from it for a while I've realized how much the American culture is driven by sex, money, & fashion. It is sooooo opposite here. It was interesting also when I went to Singapore as the women walked around in mile high heals & ridiculous-futuristic outfits & the metro-sexual men prancing around in things that probably cost a fortune (I felt totally out of place). I was surrounded by malls. I just haven't been around that in a very long time. People in the Philippines & Indonesia are not so absorbed by fashion, actually I think they could care less. The only time they really care about their dress is to appease their Gods. Most of them wear plastic bags (on their heads) as rain-gear; no one in Singapore would be caught dead in such an outfit.
Ceremony is life to the Balinese, & these are the times when they dress their best, to appease their Gods, & they have many Gods; as the majority of the population are Hindu's (another reason why Bali is a vortex-a Hindu island in the midst of a Muslim nation). The money they make is used for ceremony and they will even admit that it gets expensive. But to me this tradition is worth every penny.
Everything stops for these ceremonies, even traffic. Sometimes there will be parades of 20-100 Balinese people marching through the streets in their ceremony gear holding traditional pieces that represent the significance of that day & clanking away at a variety of percussion instruments. It is a sound that rings in my ears daily.
The Balinese people are very kind & generous as well. The feeling I have gotten so far is that they will help out in anyway they know how to without hesitation. The other day I was driving to the doctor & COULD NOT find the hospital, so Matt & I stopped to ask for directions in some unknown area. Evidently I portrayed it enough that we were lost, so he stopped what he was doing, jumped on his motorbike & drove us to the doctor (about 30-40 minutes out of his way) and we would not even take a cent from us. Hindu people live & act highly upon karma & they truly believe their actions in this life will lead to the outcome of their next life.. This mentality makes me feel safe here. Even towards the beginning of our time here at Bali. A very generous Balinese woman took us under her wing (Wayan-from the book Eat, Pray, Love) & allowed us to stay in the very house that was mentioned in the book (for free bc at the time we were broke back-packers). I've figured out this generous act of kindness is a dream of the countless (aimless) middle-age women who roam Ubud.
Insert bitching here:
It makes me sad when I see that only the worst western inventions have made it over here; like single-wrapped Kraft cheese, McDonalds, & other like-minded shallow products. No matter how THICK the Balinese culture may be, these things are slowly but surely slithering in. This island, no no no, this country, is too unique to be brainwashed by such nonsense (in my opinion). No wonder us American have such a bad rep. I'm serious about this too, it's even hard convincing the European & Australians that there are sane people in America too.

Back to the point: Even at work I am surrounded not only by Balinese people, but people from all over the Earth. My view of the world has changed dramatically after experiencing so many global personalities & outlooks. The student population at Greenschool is conglomerated of children from all over the world, & the staff reflects world-wide faces as well. Everyday I am soaking up the Balinese traditions & I am proud to say the Indonesian language is a constant development (it is my 1st second language I've ever become serious about).
I have also fallen in love with this jungle. Every night I fall asleep to the humming of insects & rain falling eloquently on my bamboo house, & every morning I wake to sun beams seeping through the rain forest canopy. Everyday I am grateful to be in such a harmonious place on Earth. Not only do I get to live in this environment, I get to teach in it as well. The other day Matt & I were teaching the kids "nature survival" strategies; we took them on a walk through the jungle & showed them all the ways humans CAN depend on nature. The children were sucking on sugarcane, slurping on coconut milk with papaya straws, chomping on pineapples, cocoa seeds, rice, papayas, green-edible plants, & various roots we dug up. It was a beautiful vision!
There are so many neat & extraordinary things in this place that I have never witnessed. There are these army ants who will team up & take out their prey who are much larger than them; typically its worms, but I've seen them even take out centipedes & scorpions. Its incredible, they bite them & then work as a team to carry their prey to their destination-at this point the prey is still fighting for its life as it's being carried away. The circle of life is a continuous cycle that is every where, but this vision is one that I see quite often.
There plants here are also unlike anything I've ever seen, they are gigantic & they all have some kind of unique protection force. Everything grows rapidly here due to the heat & humidity (including bacteria). The other day we woke up with a dead bat on our kitchen counter & the insects here are the largest I've ever seen. Anything & everything is quite welcome in our home since we have no walls and/or doors. Thank god for our mosquito net-that's all I have to say.... :)
I've never felt so safe in such an unknown area (that in retrospect should be feared). One morning at 3am I woke up & wrote:
"I am sitting at my kitchen counter writing thoughts in a wide open house.
No doors.
No walls.
No locks.
Purely out in the open,
vulnerable to the jungle & the people who could come by.
But they wont."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Balancing Realities

Phew! Its been a while since I've been able to sit down & write. I've had tid bits of time to sit down, but I haven't been able to write, & when I felt I could write I didn't have the time to sit down. So finally, the two have intertwined.
I feel that I was really on to something during my travels. I was seeing a whole new light of the world & myself. I was exploring realms of my personality & habits that needed serious attention & was actually grasping the things I truly wanted to do in my life... Now I am back to the working world & I am trying my best to take what I learned during my travels & apply it to real life. Because although traveling IS necessary to the evolution of my consciousness, it is not a sustainable lifestyle, at some point you have to come back to reality.

It is of utmost importance for me to recognize how I can balance the two worlds of work & well-being. I owe this to myself, I owe this to the ones around me, and I owe this to the world. Luckily, I absolutely love what I am doing, which makes the whole work part much easier, but even if you love what you do, work can inevitably consume you. It is easy to become lost in such things & forget about your relationships,, your hobbies, your growth, yourself. So the ultimate question is how do you balance the realities of life???


I truly believe that there are four things that make up what it means to be human
1. The Physical Realm
2. The Emotional Realm
3. The Mental Realm
4. The Spiritual Realm
All of which are states (or levels) of well-being & if one is missing, inner equilibrium is not achieved. Making these four aspects of oneself balanced is true living, the best living.

Recently I spoke about this concept with a woman I work with. I explained with her my view of how people can become so absorbed by one of the realms that they loose sight of the other beautiful parts of themselves. An example I proposed to her was of a place I recently lived where most of the people were so attentive to their physical side that it was hard to connect with them on any other level. I also proposed examples from the world today such as; a model who is typically a person that is indulged by the physical world, a sensitive person who is overtaken by their emotions, a person who studies their life away has lost themselves in their books, & yes it is even possible to become "too spiritual". She is from a "very spiritual place in England, kind of like Boulder" she said, and after speaking about this she admitted that as much as she loved the place "many of the people there have become ungrounded because they are too spiritual," or in other words they have become so attached to one aspect of their personality that they have lost focus of the other parts of themselves.
So, in retrospect it is so simple how to live a balanced life: just pay attention to each of the four elements that make up a human being. But on the contrary, life is tough & there are distractions. Like I said, it's easy to get lost in the things that consume you.
Sometimes when I sit in silence with myself & not think about the 10,000 things that need to be done, I realize what my life, my body, soul, & mind really need. I give myself the time to become aware of how I need to grow. In addition to the realizations it also requires strength, discipline, sacrifice, & encouragement from the ones around you (most people, including myself, lack this part, but it truly is grandma's secret homemade recipe). It is a choice that an individual makes for themselves, a shift in consciousness about knowing what your own body needs, because in reality YOU are the only one who truly knows.
The time I have had overseas has truly changed me, I can honestly say I will never be the same after all of these experiences. I have become more motivated to take control of my life in the most humble way possible. I have truly recognized first hand that if I want to live my life fully it is up to me to make the choice. No one is responsible for my happiness, my success, or my achievements. I am responsible for this.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Greenschool Experience

The first time I set foot on the campus of Greenschool I knew this place was unlike any other in the world. It was calm, peaceful, & all of the children were beaming with positive energy. There were no closed in walls, all the functioning structures were made of bamboo & totally open to the lush permaculture that surrounded the heart of the school; it almost didn’t even seen as though it was a school.
The second day I visited Greenschool about 15-20 6th graders were covered in mud in the mud pit (where the full moon ceremonies are held-also directly next to the principal’s office) having a “bonding session as the rubbed mud in each other’s hair. Right besides this “bonding exercise” was 5-7 students jamming away on marimbas & jambeys during their “snack time.” And when the gong rang & all the kids scurried to their next destination I knew this was the place I needed to be. (Oh did I mention the school lunches are made from organic foods that are picked from the crops surrounding the school, the toilets are composted, every building/classroom & all the furniture is composed of sustainable bamboo, the water is derived from an underwater well that is located directly under the school, the electricity is in the process of being supplied by a vortex in the river next to the school, & it has the smallest carbon footprint of any mass school on Earth. This place RULES!!)
The following day, I met with the founder of the school, a man who is severely scarred from the realities of “An Inconvenient Truth,” & has dedicated the rest of his life to create one more solution towards a more environmentally conscious future. In the short time that I spoke with him he asked me questions like “how many GOOD teachers did you have, honestly?” “What do you think is the real reason people choose teaching as their profession?” And “how many of those teachers do you think change the world in their summers off?” He wanted me to not only answer the questions, but to answer them honestly. So I did, & I will never forget that conversation.
Unfortunately, this opportunity Matt & I have been given is a scenario of sad endings leading to new beginnings. The woman whose position we were given died (today actually). A few days before her death all of the Greenschool teachers sat listening to the founder as he pleaded to us that “you should never wait to be doing what you really love because you never know when this will all be over for you. One month ago I saw Dawn (the woman who we replaced) pushing around a wheelbarrow, now she is in hospice waiting for the cancer to end its cycle. If this is not what you want to be doing, please go figure out what it is.” Then we all gave her a minute of silence.
So, needless to say, we’ve got shoes to fill & not only do we want to fill them well, we want to fill them GREAT because we cannot imagine anywhere else in the world we would rather be, than here & in this situation. Now we are Ibu Brynn & Pak Matt (aka “The Greens”) & we are team teaching these kids about Green Studies (the whole backbone of this schools mission), & we are being supported by everyone around us to throw out the books & get these kids dirty & reconnected with nature.
Since we have taken on this role (which also involves creating the whole curriculum- an enormous task in itself) we have discovered how humans have deprived themselves of nature by succumbing to the convenience of air conditioning, fast & easy food, cemented walls, etc. & have forgotten all of the things true nature inherently provides for us. It has been said that in order for a human being to understand the extremity of the world’s environmental crises they have to possess an intimate connection with the Earth on a personal level. Or, in other words, the people who get out in nature catch bugs, get their feet dirty, swim in natural waters, learn about & live off the land etc. will have a deep yearning for this place we call home & even consider it as a part of themselves (which instinctively they want to protect). The ones who segregate themselves from the natural world will find it hard to care or even think twice about something that isn’t a part of them (why would they care if it’s gone if it’s not a part of their day/life?). It is estimated that by 2030 80% of the world’s population will be urbanized & sheltered away from everything natural. So it is our job to not let that separation happen to these children by giving them all the opportunities to love & learn about the natural world. It is our job to get these malleable souls out in nature & understand what it feels like to hold a butterfly in their hand, dig up minerals from the breast of the Earth, & get their hands dirty in the most sustainable ways. It is our job to turn these children into conscious adults who will be leaders & movers in our global environmental solutions. This is where I need to be right now, & I AM GOING TO KICK ASS!!!

“In the end we will only conserve what we love,
We will only love what we understand,
We will understand only what we have been taught.”
~Baba Dioum –African Conservationist

Monday, August 23, 2010

Go --> Forth

It seems like the Philippines was so long ago, but it hasn't even been a month since we've been in Indonesia. I feel like the Phillies & Indo have been two completely different chapters I have been through in my life, & this phase I am in is the most powerful yet. I have taken myself out of the busy life-style that was consuming every part of my being & gave myself the opportunity to take a step back, listen to the silence, & get to know myself again. Not only am I continuously learning what it means to live on a planet (and not just a country), I am also learning what it is I love & what is truly important to me. Typically my summer would have been spent engulfed & hyptomized by loud music, parties, & mind altering experimentation, but this year I chose something different. I decided to see the world, practice yoga, climb volcanoes at 4am instead of party til 4am, meditation, silence, knowledge, God (actually I call it "Father Sky", I believe you can call this living entity of connection & oneness anything you want, but most people know it as God), & most importantly I chose self-exploration.
The major difference between the Philippines & now is that when I began this voyage I felt stuck.. internally... I came equipped with a ton of goals to achieve, so I knew I traveled half way across the Earth for a reason, but I didn't know where to start. So, in all honesty, the majority of the time I was in the Philippines I was solely an observant adventurist. The experiences were wholesome in every way-but it was almost as though I was on vacation & soon enough I would be back to the busy world of unconsciousness. I went about my days wondering when this "huge transformation" was going to take over me & even questioned if I was in the right place for it to happen. I underestimated the validity that all great things happen in good time. Now, looking back, the transformation began with a book (A New Earth) during my last week in the Philippines. I discovered that all these changes that I wanted to happen would only transpire by starting with myself FIRST. Without even knowing it, the door was opened, & all the things I so desperately desired started coming in one by one.

Now, I don't want to undermine the whole "starting with myself" journey. This was actually gruesome & there are many things about my personality & past that require some serious confrontation-this truthfully was no easy battle to initiate, but it was exactly what HAD to happen in order to prove to myself that I can obtain the things that I REALLY want in life.

The longer I have been overseas the more deep, heartfelt, & real it has become. Sometimes I don't even recognize myself (in the best way possible). The other day my yoga teacher identified that "people often associate yoga with self-improvement, but it's not, its actually all about self-exploration." As soon as she said that the light went off in my head & I said to myself (internally) "that's it! This journey I am on is all about figuring out what my mind, body, & soul is capable of." After all I have been through I can see now that all three parts of myself are being tested & exercised (even when I felt stuck).
Before I left the US I titled my journal "Trip of Transformation-mind, body, & soul." The door has been opened & it will consciously never be closed.

I understand how freakin sweet it is to be human, how lucky I am to be in such an amazing situation, I how I will always live up to my last name!


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Motorcycle Diaries

The days I like the most are the ones when we hop on the back of a motorcycle & set off for the open road. We leave the tourist trail in our dust & explore the journey of the unknown~this is when we get to see the true culture of the country.
We are given the chance to go off road & witness the beauty that unfolds in the most primitive villages. The other day we were cruising through the mountains of Bali, & these aren’t like any typical mountains, these were rainforest mountains coated by thick, juicy clouds that consistently spit out rain. I didn't quite realize that we were truly deep in the jungle because there were so many villages, it seemed like any other place where people created a way of life surrounded by lush crops & forests. It hit me as I sat sheltered from the pouring rain in a sari-sari twistin & lickin Oreo's when I looked up & spotted a herd of 5-7 monkeys swinging through the trees RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!! I looked around to find signs for which national park I was in but found none (you have to be in some kind of claimed land to see something so cool-right?). I turned to Matt & said "its not everywhere in the world where you can enjoy an Oreo & watch monkeys in their natural habitat," he agreed. The rain started to calm so we jumped back on our bike & about 154m up the road I saw some locals standing along the street next to two huge monkeys who were as calm as could be; there were no cameras, no awe inspired faces (except mine), the two species were coinciding-both just going about their business...
Typically, when we don’t have a destination or a plan we stumble upon the greatest things. We decided that we both enjoy the motorcycle excursions so much that we ditched our big backpacks at some hostel in Ubud, packed a day bag for the next week, found a brand new motorbike, circled some epic places in Bali we should definitely see, & hit the road leaving the rest up to fate.
We have a couple running experiments on this motorcycle escapade; one-who serves the best Gado-Gado (a typical Indonesian vegetarian mean with peanut sauce that is served throughout, but prepared completely different in every restaurant), two-who is the best masseuse in Bali, & three- which volcano serves the best sunrise.
The other day we discovered that the cops here are corrupt. As we were cruising along a quiet road, checking out the rice terraces, we ran into two cops on the side of the road who obviously pulled us over & screwed with us because of our pale-tourist looking skin. The cop who could speak English threatened us for about 20 minutes about how he was going to confiscate our bike & Matt’s license until we went to court & the bank & blah blah blah… Then had the nerve to say “or I’ll just let you go with a warning if you give my friend some money.” Luckily, Matt is good with his words & talked him out of the whole dilemma while snatching his license out of his hands. We drove off asking each other “did that really just happen???”
Learning Bahasa (Indonesian) has also been fun & advantageous along this journey. WE know all of the basics and then some. We can read the majority of the menu (which is especially helpful in the warungs-small restos) & even say things like “ini enak sekali!” (that was delicious!) to the chef. Matt also makes this learning fun & memorable, for instance, goat = kambing, he says “the goat like to go camping,” it sticks. I only hope that I am as good of a teacher as he can be. 
After a morning of climbing Mt. Batur another active volcano we were pretty exhausted as we set off for the east coast of Bali. The drive ended up being 3-4 hrs, & although it was vibrantly beautiful, we were beat by the time we arrived in Amed. A sigh of relief overwhelmed both of us when we finally spotted all the home-stays & hotels aligning the beach. We stopped in a few places to ask the price & were shocked to hear the $30-70 quotes without negotiation, & it only seemed to get more expensive as we drove. Now, $30-70 US may not seem like a lot to stay in a hotel on the beach of an Indonesian Island (its not, its an amazing price), but we’ve been spending $5-15 tops & splitting that between the two of us, so this was, how do you say~out of our budget (especially after traveling for over two months now). Just as we were about to loose hope & succumb to splurging we rolled upon a calm place with Buddha statues everywhere & the guy in charge shook our hands & introduced himself as “Smiling Buddha,” he told us “our rooms are full, but you can sleep here for free if you want.” We looked to our right & saw the wide open ocean splashing on the beach & 5-7 women in the courtyard doing yoga; on our left was a spacious & open nipa hut with huge comfy pillows for our laying upon-we both shook our heads yes. Smiling Buddha said “Ok, you sleep here, from the bottom of my heart,” & walked away. Matt & I looked at each other & both knew what the other was thinking… Score!
And this was where we met the French; a posse of 4 dudes & 1 girl who have come together over the course of their travels & created a rebel clan from France. Actually, we didn’t meet them here, the day before we climbed Mt. Batur with them at sunrise, somehow they were just as drawn to this place as us, good places have good vibes (aka vibrational frequencies). This was a lively crew & definitely had a pack leader, who was interesting in every sense of the word. After we all came to the conclusion that we were all looking to have a good time, Smiling Buddha made the suggestion that he could hire a band for us (since we were all staying there for free in his nipa hut like a big fat family). So we danced, we sang, we had great conversations, and a little bit of drama after the ring leader had too many to drink, but absolutely had a great night-one of which I will never forget..

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure- self-determined, self-motivated, often risky-forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the Earth & you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness & bottomless cruelty of humankind-and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” ~ Anatole France

Friday, August 6, 2010

John Steinbeck said, “People don’t take trips; Trips take people.” How true…

The people here are entirely generous, polite, & helpful when they find us travelers in need of direction & information. They will talk & walk with us for as long as we need without asking for a cent. Maybe it is completely out of their kindness, or maybe even to just practice their English (the ones who speak English here have a one-up in the job market), either way, I cherish these interactions.
The Indonesians love Obama!! Essentially it is because he once lived here in Java, but mostly because of his influence on the States. The Indonesians ask where we are from (it is of top priority to know this before anything else) & as soon as we say "USA" they are full of cheer and gratitude to meet us & yell "Oh YES! OBAMA!!" I'm not so sure they would have been so honored to meet us 1 1/2 year ago before Obama was in presidency.
We were told a very interesting story the other day that was extremely powerful & I will never forget. During one of our "interactions" with an English speaking Indonesian (who was a Batik Artist-incredible wax & dye cloth paintings) he was thrilled to hear we were from America & let us in a little secret. He was also a well-traveled individual taking his art world-wide & knew how people all over the world feel about the USA. He told us that people across the globe seriously anticipated & payed close attention to our last presidential election. The amazing part is that he told us that every person in Indonesia (& in other countries as well) stopped everything they were doing that day & prayed that Obama would win the election. "We stopped working, eating, driving, etc. to sit and send out our magnetic forces to your country. And it Worked!! We are all very excited your country is ready for change too." I was absolutely moved, it literally gave me goosebumps. Not only do many of us Americans understand how desperately we needed a change, but people all over the world stopped everything they were doing to help make it happen. Unbelievable! It is seriously powerful to know that people world-wide jumped for joy when Obama's name shouted victory on that very important day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So far, our journey in Indo has included many Western tourists (mainly Europeans with a dash of Americans). Right now I am struggling with this mostly because our experiences in the last two months have been very intimate with the locals-they looked at us as a hot commodity who they were curious about, now were just another tourist. And that's the second reason why its hard for me, they make me feel like a tourist-not a traveler. I often find myself asking Matt if we can "go eat elsewhere" just to get away from it all. I've got a bit of the "I'm not here to see Westerners syndrome" & because of that I probably seem either a bit intimidating or just plain & simple unwelcoming, either way I will get over it soon... But I just have to get it off my chest that Europeans are almost as loud & obnoxious as Americans. Which almost makes me believe that the West represents quite an egocentric & unconscious state (-), & the East signifies silence, devotedness, & selflessness (+); without the two dualities this world would not be able to exits as a balanced being. I have to admit though, all of us tourists & travelers have one thing in common; we are all searching for something. Whether it be an adventure, God, art, culture, yoga, a good surf spot, or simply a change; we all left our homes of comfort to see exactly what it is this world has to offer.I am also being a bit over-dramatic about this solely because I've been stuck either on a bemo (van-type transportation) or a huge "tour"-ist bus for the past 2 days with the same white faces. And its all because we signed up for a package deal from Yogyakarta (Java) to Denpassar (Bali).
Traveling Indo is nothing like traveling the teensy-weensy islands of the Philippines-these islands are HUGE!! The longest trek in the Philippines was 5 hours (I thought that was exhausting); now this one was going on 48 hours-which makes Indonesia as a country, as an archipelago -intimidating. But every penny we spent on that package deal & all the time spent with the tourist was all worth it because of what I experienced at the crack of dawn a few days ago.
Bright & early, I mean, dark & early @ 3:30AM we rose from our slumber (& this typically ain't my bag) with intentions to see the sun rise over Mt. Bromo a.k.a. a very capable & active volcano. We layered up & as we headed out the doors I tried to convince myself it was too early for coffee, plus I should experience this on my own, without any help of substance. It was about an hour walk to & up the volcano; it was not the easiest of walks either at the butt crack of dawn. My motivation on the way up was the shear beauty of my surroundings & my motivation on the way back was muesli.
I can't really describe the magic that swept over my soul as I stood on the lip of the crater of lively Mt. Bromo. I'm not sure if it was the visual of looking down in a volcano as it spewed sulfury steam, or the vibrant green volcano standing beside Mt. Bromo, or the clouds that rolled over the surrounding mountains like a waterfall, or the transcendence of witnessing the sun RISE over such a surreal setting, something deep within my soul evolved. On top of the ultimate gratitude that swirled in my heart for such a heavenly place on Earth, I felt a deep longing for a change of living & it all seemed entirely possible. That day I made four invigorating goals for myself.

"Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep & permanent, in the ideas of living." -Miriam Beard

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Selamat Indonesia

I really do feel like we've been thrown into a whole new world. Just when I thought I had this traveling thing down, the very essence of traveling came knocking on my door and laughed in my face. In Indonesia, the money is different, they drive on the opposite side of the road/car (this mind-fucks you the first time you see it), there are people wearing sacred cloths on their head (which I don't fully understand yet-but excited to learn), and they barely speak any English-creating a true language barrier that I have never experienced-and I am the minority.

"There was just a topless woman!" Matt exclaims as I try to look up as often as I can from this writing. The setting is quite similar to that of the Philippines, there are sari-saris (little shop) on every corner, people gazing out their windows at the action, traffic up the wazoo, & palm trees that create the whole backdrop effect. But something definitely feels different here. I have a feeling this "new chapter" is not going to be the island oasis splurge we were just on, this one will be a bit more intense. Don't get me wrong, I am glad I started out in the Philippines because two months ago, I was not ready for this. But now I am. My heart, soul, mind, body & stomach are all ready for this new voyage. America is riding on my sleeve, telling me "No. No. No. These ways are not right!" but deep in my gut I am in love with these difference and I am really looking forward to this cultural exchange.
Jakarta. Another big city which we tried to escape ASAP, but this time we got a bit stuck (for a lack of better words). This time we got "stuck" not because of choice, we got stuck because we entered a new world totally unprepared. We arrived in Indonesia with a vague outline of what we wanted to do, no plans, no written down advice of where to stay or go, no travel book, just a map. Through this, we truly ingested why people call the Lonely Planet, the "Travelers Bible." We felt literally lost in a place where no one speaks our language & all the street signs are in Indonesian (Bahasa); & worst of all, when we did find a book store our much needed travel-guide was "sold out." On our last leg we finally found it in some random hidden book store tucked in the shadows (totally overpriced, but we didn't care). I knew "the bible" would be hiding in some odd whole in the wall. Ironically, when we opened the book it introduced itself by saying "If you think travels rugged now, delve into Helen & Frank Schrider's Drums of Tonkin which documents their 1963 journey from Sumatra to Timor in an amphibious jeep; landslides, gun-toting soldiers, & sea voyages galore." They definitely figured it out on their own 50 yrs ago without any silly travel-guide. I was humbled by this.

We have thrown ourselves into a Muslim world, is what we've done. I mean I've seen Muslims before (& had Muslim friends)in America, but that's when I was looking at them like they were the odd ball out, now their starring at me & asking themselves "what the...hell is she thinking." Maybe. I'm not for sure; their looks are mysterious, I can't tell if their intrigued or totally turned off. I say this because they are very conscientious about image & I can almost read their mind as they look at me thinking "Oh my God (or, Oh my Muhammad!)look at all that skin she is showing." But I specifically wore my longer shorts (to my knees) & a top that was midriff conscious with intentions to appease their religion. Still I think it might be too much... I haven't cared about my image so much since I was in the States. I think if I brought too much of my spunky American style to this place, they might gasp at me in horror.
On a lighter note, the Muslim prayer callings (songs of meditation) are much more inviting. On every Mosque there are loud speakers that sing to the whole town several times in the day (even at 4am). These callings are dedicated to the people to notify them it is time from prayer.. Its actually quite beautiful, and perfectly soothing.
So now, everywhere smells like cloves, we are surrounded by temples and the kindest people I have met so far, and the culture is as rich as a slice of chocolate cake that sinful written all over it! I can't explain the happiness and gratitude I am carrying with me in my soul. This experience is unreal, and the greatest gift I have ever given myself. Currently, we are headed east towards Bali, but not until we stop & see Borobudur (the largest Buddhist temple in the world). I LOVE Indo!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Farewell Philippines

THE FILIPINO...
They do not live up to any standard but their own.
They are relaxed islanders by nature but innate hard workers by necessity.
They indulge in sweets & cigarettes to make life more enjoyable but their teeth do not agree.
They still smile big!

Sin color is a classification of social class, the light colored ones are the ones who care and the dark either don't care or have the choice to hide from the sun.
They're all hopeless romantics, even the men sing sappy love songs loudly.
Rice is the staple of every meal, if they go without it in a day they feel as though they haven't eaten.
The Filipino will drop everything they are doing to wave hi, or yell "Hey Friend!"
They are an indigenous race that has uprooted from the junlge & created their own unique villages to reside.
Their livelihood includes selling the goods and services of the Earth.
Even their homes and shops are created out of the very materials of Earth, & actually look like they belong among the forest.
But, just like an American, Filipinos value the quick, easy, & fast; fast food chains with long lines prove this.
They work very hard for very little inevitably limiting desires to necessities.
Every capable family member contributes to the daily budget, young & old.
The Filipinos with money do not segregate themselves to a "higher" community, instead they nestle their houses amidst neighbors of various social classes.
They are a barefoot culture whose mantras are of God & LOVE, & through this they are truly a pleasure to be around.


HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PHILIPPINES
There are so many visions & memories that come to mind when I think of this new experience of travel & the culture of the Philippines. But the places and things I will remember the most is: (in no particular order)
~The boat tours in El Nido-carsts, blue lagoons, snorkeling, & beach side lunches :)
~ Apo Island Diving-Huge aquarium, tons of life, especially the 15-20 sea turtles.
~Cantabon Cave-Amazing splunking tour
~Getting Scuba certified in Moal Boal-and the introduction to the "lady boy"
~Sugar Beach-remote & quiet break (from everything)
~Siquijor waterfall- swimming under it!!
~El Nido Sunsets- BEST I have ever seen (so far), every night was a dramatic display.
~Motorbike exploring-especially Valencia & the Twin Lakes
~Roosters GAllOre- cock everywhere!
~Sari-Sari's (small shops) on every corner fulfilling my sweet tooth at night time.
~Halo-Halo- the weird Filipino dessert (with beans?!?!)
~Mangoes-mmmmmm I'm in love~!
~The markets-culture SHOCK!
~Jeepneys, tricycles, buses, bangkas, ships, & planes-getting places was always a new ride.
~Seeing Matt's face at the airport.
~Being a minority-& all the expressions I received from Filipinos of all ages.
~All the animals roaming the streets.
~3 in 1 Nescafe, & the early morning transition.
~Jungle trekking-especially the Monkey Trail.
~THE FLORA! Absolutely Vibrant!
~Virgin coconut cream sauce + garden veggies, mmmmm, & that delicious green vegetable we never could find out the name of...
~convincing Matt that breakfast is the best meal of the day :) & the muesli, mmmmm.
~So much sugar in everything! even the spaghetti was sweet.
~The geckos!-welcoming them into my home.
~San Miguel & Tanduay (rum)-cheaper than water
~The safety of the mosquito nets at nighttime.
~A New EARTH, and the inner transformation.
~ The hut & bungalow accommodations-some nicer than others :)
~The Chocolate Hills & the Tarsier
~All the nasty fat old white men with Filipina wives...

Now we are thrown into Indonesia, and this is a VERY different experience, I will expand later, we are getting kicked out of the internet again...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Visayas.... So Far.

In every direction the Philippines has beautiful landscapes & ample opportunities for exploration. This place is an Earth Scientist dreamland! From the top peaks of the mountains & volcanoes to the deep trenches of the ocean & everything in between amazing views of the Earth are waiting to be seen. gazing from the rocks and sand of the Earth to the thick clouds in the sky it is very rare that I need to remind myself that I am in paradise. The colors are so vibrant, the brightest blues & greens I have ever seen! The other day I saw a tree with flowers every color of the rainbow~quite a site.
About a week or so ago I was given my PADI scuba certification after four days of hittin the books and underwater lessons. We were stuck in Moal Boal for those 4 days- and it wasnt too bad of a spot to be stuck. I went 20m or 65ft deep in the ocean & saw a whole new world. I thought snorkeling was cool... pshhhhh.. Scuba diving is one experience EVERYONE should have, snorkeling is incomparable, when you dive you are IN the ecosystem. That might scare some, but I was thriving! I swam with a sea turtle, it was probably 1-2ft away from me. I felt like I could reach out and grab it, but I resisted, and swam with it instead. During this moment I felt the energy of my brother, an avid turtle lover. At another point we were swimming up on what seemed to be a huge dark rain cloud, it was almost scary how big it was. I noticed it was a school of sardines, millions of sardines, like you would see on a clip of a Planet Earth movie, each of them were swimming in sync with each other. I saw GINORMUS tunas trailing their path, but the day before Matt saw Thresher Sharks stalking them. Moal Boal on Cebu Island is a major attraction for diving because of its massive coral wall. The shore goes for about 30m then suddenly drops to the dark deep ocean floor, along the wall the ocean life is beaming in all shapes, colors, and sizes. I cannot even begin to explain what I saw because it would take me hours. But I was in awe by the sights, and I was almost as impressed that I could breath underwater.
The bus rides are long, some up to 6 hours, but they allow me time to think. Each place we pass seems similar to the last, but still unique in its own way. A transformation has already shifted inside of me, I dont know why or how, it just has. I feel a oneness with everyone and everything, as though they are a part of me, rather than separate. Two months ago I had no idea who these people were and now I see their ways of life as a beautiful manifestation of tranquility and serenity. Even the parts that seem hard to swallow, I allow myslef to see the light of their ideas and visions. Every section of each island we pass provokes a deifferent thought, and I am trying to absorb it all. The school yards are so full of life with children hopping around with smiles and excitement to be out! They stare at me with amazement as I pass by with a smile in return. I think they are facinated by my curly hair, I might be the only onw in 1000 miles with it. The other day Matt & I went to Malapataya secifically to see their colorful market. It encompassed a vast display of their culture. From the dried fish, fruits & vegetables native to their land, big slabs of tuna & beef with flies covering them & women trying to shew them away, cheap plastic toys & shiney things, buckets of slop that looked like fish guts (but that was only my guess), cows pigs goats, and chickens running around to the sound of kareoke every 5m, this place screamed Filipino life.
We just left Sugar Beach, once again we got stuck on a secluded beach paradise. And this was the most secluded yet. :) In order to get there we had to take a bangka boat that cost 300pisos/$6 one way. Once we were there everything turned into complete relaxation mode. There were no tricycles zooming up & down the street, no buses honking, no roosters crowing, no street lights, just clean white beach surrounded by blue ocean, hammocks hanging in every capable tree, a few hostels & resorts, and a small village. We got stuck hanging in hammocks, reading our books, and playing in the ocean for 5 days. A total of 6,000 Pisos/$13 per day including food, I can't complain. While we were there I was having continuous headaches & mild fevers at nighttime. I was sick of feeling like crap at night so I decided I needed to see a doctor to figure out the issue and get some medicine. As soon as we stepped foot in the doctors office I instantly changed my mind about the state I was in. There were probably 75 people waiting to see the 1-2 doctors, mostly sick babies and children. I decided to save that stop for emergencies only and stopped at the pharmacy instead. Yesterday on our bus ride to Bacolod (North Negros) Matt & I decided everytime we get on a long distance bus one of us will give away a belonging of ours to an unknown Filipino who looks in need of a brighter day.
We made it to North Negros with intentions of climbing Mt. Kanlaon, an active volcano, but today we found out it is booked for a month.. We were both very excited to do some volcano trekking, but a change in course is now in progress.
Today marks my 1 month exploration away from home, and Matt's 2 month (were totally treating ourselves to sushi tonight). The Islands have treated us VERY well so far, but we are getting a bit antsy and eager for a more intense excursion. We decided once we get into Indonesia we are going to start volunteering, WWOOFing, and finding a greater role. But we still have a few weeks left in the Philippines to relax & soak it up, and 3 more Islands to investigate. Leaving no stone left unturned.
More pics are coming soon, its hard to find internet cafes that will let you upload data.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Sense of Palawan

The experiences here, small or vast, are all very potent. All senses are triggered. I see, hear, smell, feel, and taste every element this atmosphere has to offer, internalizing each of them.

I see enormous pigs on leashes walking men instead of being walked; a live rooster in a plastic bag tied tight with lettuce; children having dancing contests, rap battles, and playing tag with a sandal; monkeys tied to fences as "pets"; string beans 3 ft long; water buffalo coated in mud to stay cool; mountains covered in clouds; families riding motorcycles; men riding on the top of buses with the luggage; live bamboo some as big as my arm; bright pink, orange, yellow, white, and blue flowers; huge trees vibrant & green; crystal blue waters; jungle flora & fauna; butterflies, lizards, & snakes; electrifying gardens & rice terraces; the longest navigable underground river with bats flying all around me; and phenomenal sunsets.

I hear a language that I cannot even begin to understand let alone speak; roosters crowing with the rising of the sun; coins clinging; pigs squealing; ice cream men ringing bells; all sorts of engines revving; loud deep laughter, babies crying and talking; American music covered by Filipinos playing; dogs barking; birds chirping; monkeys calling; people selling goods; Matt's mind speaking, educating, & humoring me; people of all ages singing; hammers pounding incessantly on houses and buildings; all types of horns honking repeatedly; waves crashing on the beach; wind chimes singing; food cooking; and fans humming.

I taste ripe, juicy mangoes; cold Coca-Cola from glass bottles; the best frozen fruit shakes I've ever had; local eggs; a variety of crazy fruits & vegetables I've never seen before; delicious curry dishes; all sorts of well cooked seafood; peach hookah; every different flavor of rice you could imagine; & delicious Filipino candy & snacks.

I smell fresh, crisp air; street food; ripened mangoes and pineapples; dried fish in the markets; fresh rain; sweet flowers; stinky farms and garbage in certain areas; burning charcoal & coconut shells, matches being blown out (my favorite); exhaust in the cities; every meal I have been served; lemongrass, ginger, & curry.

I feel the hot sun on my skin (sun poisoning the 1st week-I was so white-the sun is so intense-now I am golden brown); wind blowing through my hair; cold & warm rain on my skin; continuously moist-the humidity is constant; Matt' touch & warmth; massage, reflexology, & yoga healing my body; cool winds at night time which make the days heat not seem so bad; mosquitoes biting and ants crawling on my skin (especially in Sabang); the finest sand I have ever felt; sardines rub up against me as I swam through a school of 1000's; & a deep connection with Earth & all the people & things around me. I have never felt oneness like I do here, like I do now.

I am truly realizing that cultures around the world are not just some picture in a National Geographic that are untouchable. In fact, the other side of the world is not that far away~it is here, it is happening, tangible, & within reach.
Tomorrow morning Matt & I are flying to the Visayas. We are both anticipating new & exciting experiences to delve into.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

El Nido (Just the tip) of Palawan

I am awake at 7:30, & this has been normal so far. Most people here, especially the ones who work, go to bed early & rise with the sun. You hear tricycle-motorbikes (the rides) at 6am, so its quite hard to sleep after 6:30. We took a long van ride (5hrs) up to El Nido from Puerto Princessa & it was well worth it. This place is AMAZING!!

Everything including the people, the atmosphere (very small village), & the scenery (crystal blue waters, surrounded by mountains, white beaches, & carst topography). Yesterday we took a tour on a bangka boat.. Seriously Epic! I experienced perfection several times throughout the day. The mountains here are unlike any I have seen before, they are coated in sharp igneous rocks like pumice. The waters are the brightest shades of blue, & I am constantly amazed by the atmospheric conditions.

Yesterday, Matt & I sat under the shade of a palm tree drinking milk out of a coconut with a straw, trying our best to fight the heat of the sun, but still it was thundering-quite cool! Then it started to sprinkle with blue skies all around us, the warmest rain I've ever felt. We moved to the ocean & looked at each other with eyes of amazement. It will be straight up raining in one region with a huge cumulonimbus cloud surrounding the region & everywhere else is sunny & beautiful. The rain only lasts a bit, I could lay in it forever.
The under-water world was an experience in itself. Matt, JOhn, & myself signed up to take a day tour around the surrounding islands on a bangka (small boat). We hopped around on a few different islands & each spot had something different to offer. On the first spot we started our snorkeling excursion. There were several little hidden coves which we had to squeeze through small gaps in order to find. I was amazed by the coral species I was seeing, but to my surprise I had seen nothing yet. We all got back on the boat and started moving to the next destination. the guides told us to go snorkeling as they prepared our lunch, with no hesitation we jumped in, and soon enough we were submerged into another world. This world was crawling with life and synchronicity. I have never witnessed such a sight before in my life. There was a vast variety of fish, coral, and other species of life that were all living in unity with one another. It was literally a scene from "Finding Nemo", but in real life. I witnessed every color in the spectrum, and the water is so salty here that I could float perfectly allowing me to hover over this community. I was clown fish (nemo) protecting their habitat (anemone), bright angel fish, colorful corals & fans, and several fish species that I cannot name. But everything was living in unison, everything had a purpose, and its own unique approach to life. Every time Matt & I crossed each others path we had something different to point out to each other. This experience will forever stay imprinted in my memory. I am engulfed by beauty above & below... This section of the Earth has so much to offer, the Earth is throbbing with character & charisma.


Like any other culture the children are the most welcoming, but in the Philippines people of all ages are thrilled to see you. They have the biggest smiles I have ever seen, & it is evident how much they value our smiles. There are many cultural differences that I am continuously adjusting to. For instance, I have always been a bit picky about food handling, here the smells are very potent & they do not adhere to several of the precautions that we do in the states. Sanitary regulations are just different, plain & simple. But the food however is delicious, I have yet the confidence to try the "street food" but I am sure the future calls for it. The toilets are another custom I am getting more used to as the days go by. They are about 1/2 the size I am used to and typically come without a toilet seat. They also have a bucket of water next to the toilets which are used for flushing and washing, toilet paper is quite rare.
The people are genuinely friendly and quite willing to lend a hand when in need. Yesterday the three of us drove motorcycles around the northern tip of Palawan & had the opportunity to see several small villages, the country folk, and some epic views of the rice terraces & distant islands. The whole time we were greeted with smiles & waves as some people asked questions like "where are you going" & "whats your name", their English is surprisingly good...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Trip of Transformation: The Journey Begins

The trip finally hit me in San Fransisco, as I stood in the Korean airline check-in. I felt this wave of anxiety wash over my body as everyone starred at me because I was the only Caucasian in line. This is the exact moment that it all hit me; I am submerging myself into another world, and I will be VERY different from everyone else. To be honest, I have never been the minority in an Asian crowd. But this will be the journey for the next several months. The plane ride was treacherous. First from Denver to San fran, a little over 2 hrs. Then San fran to Seoul Korea, which was the hefty 18-20 hrs. Then the last one from Korea to Manila, about 4 hrs. All in all, it ended up being a 3 day journey in a tiny little airplane seat. Somehow I woke up at 5 am sunday morning and didnt arrive in the Philippines until Tuesday at 11pm. I have to give compliments to Korean Airlines~it was the best service I have ever received from an airline. In the states it seems like they are minimizing everything during the flight (paying for headphones?) but this flight (both ones out of the country) was the exact opposite. If felt like the 60's where the stewardess' were all dressed in similar uniforms. Regardless of the fact that I did not sleep, they did everything to make the long journey comfortable. Food & drinks constantly, tons of free crappy movies to watch, and smiles from ear to ear. I fancied the Korean language in that little time I was there.
My first sunset on the other side of the world was greeted to me by the Korean coast, as I boarded my 3rd plane of the long day.. It was extraordinary, and set me up for the great sunsets/rises I will be seeing in the near future.
The last plane ride to the Philippines was simply a burden, after that 20 hr plane ride I was SOOO over it, but I kept on truckin. A little Filipino boy had the same idea as me as we both sprawled out on 4 chairs between the two of us. I finally fell asleep for a little bit, then I woke up to a ding and the captain saying we were landing in 30 minutes. I sat up, dizzy & cross-eyed, put my face into my hands and smiled so deep that it penetrated my soul. I MADE IT!
I made my way through immigration & customs with a sense of accomplishment-that ride was a commitment. As I was grabbing my bag I heard my name over the PA, the woman told me "some man is waiting over there for you." I grinned and walked out the doors and FINALLY met up with Matt. As soon as I turned the corner everyone else blurred out and he was the only one I could see. I had been anticipating that moment for a month...
Again, we were united!
We eventually found a cab, but cars were all over, people were all over, it was a cluster-fuck! Manila is a big dirty city with strip malls, strip clubs, & quick & easy food all over. It hit me again that I am in another world, but by this time I was on overload. We are escaping Manila today and headed for the island life of Palawan/Puerto Princessa. But for now, I am spoiled laying in an air-conditioned room; preparing myself for the heat of the hostels yet to come. Matt is sleeping by my side as I lay here reflecting & grateful.
I cannot sleep, I am too excited!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Desiderata



written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s --

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.


With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Making Friends with Transition

Transitions can be brutal, yet many of us don’t give ourselves the credit for what we are truly going through. Instead we hid from the emotions like they are some creepy monster that is going to eat us. We consume our time with meaningless activities, hide behind objects such as a bottle to erase the truth that evolves within us, and simply ignore it when it comes knocking on the door.

Transitions can occur in the simplest fashion… These kind can be the easiest to tackle if you aware, but typically we don’t deal with them until our bag is full with emotions that we have carelessly thrown away like some moldy banana. Then all the sudden that bag of moldy bananas seeps into the carpet; the stench and stains ruin the carpet, and now we’ve got a bigger problem to deal with… Sometimes, as hard as it may be, it’s best to just eat the banana when it starts to turn brown instead of letting it rot…

The most difficult transitions to deal with are the big ones. The complex changes that we are totally aware of, and due to fear of actually feeling the emotion’s authenticity, we run from it instead. We put on our track suits, strap up our cleats and begin our long haul around the track that ends where it begins.

The other day I caught myself on the track all suited up and ready to start jogging. I literally manipulated my train of thought to not think about the fear I felt in my gut, and picked up a book to read instead. I started reading, and instantly the problem was gone, I successfully ignored it. As I kept reading I came across a pivotal part in the book, or maybe it was a pivotal part in my life, either way the author wrote “the easiest things to do in life barely ever lead to anything greater.” A wave of guilt swept across my body, I couldn’t help but to put my book down and think about how easy it was to throw away that fear, rather than to actually feel it and deal with it. It was a simple fear that could have been easily cured if I would have just taken a second to understand it. Instead I chucked it in my backpack with the rest of the garbage I’ve been carrying on my shoulders.

It was then that I noticed I was doing everything in my power to avoid this transition that I am currently going through.
It was then and there that I chose to take control of my emotions before they took control of me. I cannot explain how painless it was to eat the brown banana compared to dealing with getting new carpet.

Anything that undergoes change is considered transition; this means things as little as a new hair cut, to events as big as your spouse leaving you.


“Transition: movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change: the transition from adolescence to adulthood.” ~Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Sometimes we are prepared for transitions, but most of the time we are not. What we human beings need to realize is that change will occur with or without us; it is our choice whether we will participate willingly or not.

As Rafiki says: “Change is gooooood.”


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Costa Rica: Opening a New Door

Friday February 19, 2010 was definitely one of the greatest days of my life. For the first time I opened a door that will never be closed, instead it will be a life-long journey & mission. As we drove to the wellness center I had the opportunity to see Costa Rica (another country) for the first time. All the ideas I had in my mind about what life is “supposed to be” diminished within a two hour drive. It was beautiful, simple, & free living at its best! When we arrived to the wellness center my eyes were captured by the flourishing vitality in all shapes and forms that surrounded me. We walked along a wire bridge that hung above a river & as soon as we reached the entrance we were greeted by smiling white teeth and brown faces saying: “PURA VIDA & MUCHO GUSTO” Except I could see in their eyes there were not repeating some line, they truly meant it. I haven’t been surrounded by such genuine people in a very, very long time. We traveled through the forest where we found a herd of horses, so clam & content- I could tell they were trained by Earthy people. I was scared at first, my only experience with horses in my past have been frightening… But this ride was calm, and even meditative. We rode horses to the top of the zip-lines in the rainforest. As I rode the zip-lines (12 of them) I was amazed by the “buena vista” & I felt a freedom in my heart that opened a whole new form of mentality. I have to say, it was a BLAST!

We arrived back at the wellness center where we were served an amazing Costa Rican cuisine & I decided to get a massage. But first I basked in the river to regulate my body temperature (my blood is so think from the cold mountains). The massage I received was the best I ever had! She even caressed certain areas which I was not used to being caressed by a stranger, but I embraced the experience. I didn’t know if I was supposed to but, I tipped her at the end and felt very confident about giving money to her family. After the massage we headed back to the resort & Amy (an amazing girl I met on the trip) & I decided we had to see the Costa Rican night life… So we went out dancing at a bar full of natives (and Americans). There was a Mariachi band playing so instantly I went to that portion of the bar. The Costa Rican guys and girls were so amazing at salsa dancing I was nervous to get on the dance floor, but within good time I was shakin it! A very tall native gestured for me to dance with him & of course I jumped at the opportunity (free salsa lessons-OK!). Even though he made me look horrible I had a blast.. God, they’re good at dancing! We ended up taking the 1985 ripped apart taxi back to the hotel & had the clever idea to go play in the ocean. As we tried to find the water we were sinking up to our knees in sand (the tide was very low), all the sudden we were being chased by security guards with flashlights.. We ran back to our beds, and fell asleep with total contentment. The whole day was spectacular.


“A Proud People”
The blood that flows in the veins of the people of this Republic is too generous. The Costa Ricans are a people of such excellent mettle; ardently patriotic, they are very proud of their independence, their autonomy, & of a prosperity due almost wholly to industry. The country is one of flourishing villages. There is that the population of Costa Rica dwells, since it is there that are found the hardy toilers who rest from the Earth the products which form the wealth of the land. An air of ease combined with antique simplicity characterizes these villages.




Already, I cannot stop comparing the U.S. to Costa Rica. Instantly, as I walked in the American doors I was drilled, rushed, and pushed through lines like a stampeed. Typically this would have seemed normal and an ordinary rat race that I participated in willingly because I didn’t know of much else. But after spending only 5 days with simple people who live uncomplicated lives- living on “Costa Rica” time, has truly changed my perspective on America “The Land of Freedom”.
My life is changed.
The door has been opened.


To Start.

I don't claim to be a great writer or philosopher; I just want to share my experiences with the people who care.